Thoughts on Voyant

This software can help researchers analyze a large collection in form of data and graphs and grasp the overall situation the corpus as well as each specific documents. Take the slave memoirs program as an example, it can show how frequently a word shows up in the corpus, in each state and in each specific document, where it shows up etc. This frequency is displayed in the form word cloud, graphs, summary and contexts. So this tool is really useful to find some big data that can’t not be found by reading each document closely or by summarizing with human brain.

For example, to look at the word “slaves”. As the interviews were all slaves, it should be a word that frequently shows up in each state. However, by examining the word in the word cloud of each state, you will find this assumption is not true. Clicking “scale” in the “Circus”, then click “document” to pick a state, then hover over the word in the new cloud. You will find that in some states such as Arkansas, slave doesn’t show at all while in Maryland and Florida, it is a big word. So this difference discovered from the clouds and graphs tell us that the slaves in different states may have different key memory over their experience. If you only look at the corpus cloud, you can’t tell such differences.

In short, Voyant is a good tool for the researchers to analyze the texts and visualize them in forms of clouds, graphs, summaries and contexts. It helps researchers make new discoveries in a large collection through ┬ábird’s eyes.

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